Wearable Tech: NFC Ring Designed to Unlock New Possibilities

A Kickstarter-funded UK company led by app developer John McLear has created a piece of jewelry with built-in RFID technology that can be used to unlock doors and mobile phones, start a car, transfer information, link people and more. The NFC Ring, which never needs charging, provides users with the option of public and private inlays for secure information sharing. The Kickstarter campaign concluded last week and dramatically exceeded its target goal by raising about $380,000.

“The ring has contactless, or RFID, technology built in and can be used to automatically unlock an NFC-capable phone when a person picks it up, or to operate other RFID devices such as door locks,” reports MIT Technology Review. “One side of the ring stores ‘personal’ data such as passwords, the other is intended for ‘public’ data such as contact information.”

All of the software is open source, developed in Apache Cordova, allowing for the creation of personal applications.

“The ring is designed so that you need to hold it within a millimeter of something for it to be read to reduce the risk of it being accidentally or maliciously read,” notes the article. “You can program credentials into the two sides of the ring and use a companion Android phone app to set up various functions on devices with contactless technology built in.”

“You can use your NFC Ring to share Wi-Fi information, links to websites, links to pictures, contact information or whatever you think is suitable to be passed securely to your friends’ smartphones and tablets,” explains the product site. “You can also use your NFC Ring to start apps with custom settings (parameters) which makes it a really easy way to personalize the app experience to match your ring.”

According to the promotional video, the NFC Ring could also be set to hold a user’s public Bitcoin address for receiving payments.

Other companies are pursuing similar technologies. MIT Technology Review explains that Google has been “experimenting with using physical tokens such as USB keys or even jewelry to take the place of passwords.”

“The Disney Infinity game environment uses NFC tech in the play pieces to unlock characters and options in the virtual world,” adds ETC@USC staffer Phil Lelyveld, who forwarded this news item to ETCentric. “This opens up all sorts of opportunities for full family, friends, and community engagement.”